Shooting Pointers

3 Preparation Season Shooting Drills: Fine-Tuning

Živa Dvoršak

Dec 2, 2022

While the pre-season period is focused on the outer position and triggering, the preparation period focuses on the inner movements from the starting point to the centre of the target. Once you’ve become familiar with your basics and your foundation is well set, it’s time to shift your focus inward and start doing some fine-tuning. This is also time to include elements of mental training in your practice. Read more to discover 3 preparation period drills.


Drill 1: Call Your Shots

If you no longer need to frequently correct your position during shooting, but get settled fairly quickly, your scores should become more constant and, at the same time, your shots should start landing in a tighter group. At this point, you should be able to call your shots.

This is a drill you can do with your coach, with the shooter standing next to you on the firing line, or by yourself. Fire a shot, follow-through, and then, without looking at the screen, tell your coach/shooting friend/sheet of paper the direction of the shot and predict the score. Since the preparation period is followed by the competition period, you can introduce some competitive tension into these training sessions and challenge your fellow club shooters to do the same drill. Each correct prediction of the shot direction is worth one point and each accurate prediction of the score (depending on your level, you can allow an offset of +/- 0.1–0.3) is worth another point. The shooter who collects the most points at the end of the practice is the winner (or the best fortune teller!).

an air pistol and a piece of paper with noted shots

Drill 2: Practice with A Stopwatch

During the preparation period, building a steady rhythm of your shot routine is essential. Divide your shot process into three parts: from lifting the rifle/pistol to bringing it to the starting point; moving it from the starting point to the centre; and from holding it in the centre to firing. To begin, you can ask someone to stand behind you with a stopwatch and record how much time you spend on each of these parts. To make the steps more discernible for them, you can also use Scatt. When you get an approximate sense of your rhythm, determine the maximum time for each part and, taking another shot, have your assistant tell you when you’ve gone over your allotted time. Whenever this happens, put the rifle/pistol down and start again. No one shooting rhythm exists. Some shooters take a long time to set up, while others take a long time to aim. I believe that the length of executing a shot should not exceed 30 seconds or 10 seconds for any individual part. If a shot takes longer, this is a waste of energy that you are better off saving for solving possible mid-shooting crises or your performance in the finals.

A boy and a girl shooting air rifle shooting drills and a mobile phone on the right with stopwatch function

Drill 3: Introduce A Mental Step into Your Shot Routine

Our previous Practical Pointer described how the starting point has a deeper meaning and how it can be a great trigger to sharpen your focus. Set a practice goal to visualize your shot three times during one actual shot. The first visualisation happens before you lift your gun; the second when you’re at your starting point; and the third during your follow-through. Your visualization doesn’t have to include all of the steps of your shot process – you can select only one part and try to see and feel it. For example, you can only visualize holding a deep ten; or the feeling of determined triggering; or seeing correct sight alignment for a deep shot. Visualizing at each of the three steps of the shot process is not easy. The task gets even more demanding when you try to do it with every single shot. If you’re not used to following your shot routine with your mind, this can already become challenging after three to five shots! However, try to stick to it and gently bring yourself back to those visualizations when you see your mind wandering elsewhere. Continuous practice creates a habit, and your goal here is to train your mind to follow your steps. Once this becomes an automated part of your routine, your mind will not have the time to be distracted by unnecessary worries and the outside world.

ziva kairo president's cup_sr

Along with doing training drills, the preparation period is also a suitable time to re-evaluate your plan for achieving your seasonal goals. Read your Shooting Notes. Are you where you’re supposed to be, or is there anything that needs adjustment or requires more attention?

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2 thoughts on “3 Preparation Season Shooting Drills: Fine-Tuning”

  1. Maurice Morara Mwambi

    Ziva,thank you for this three important preparation season tips . The third point has really opened my eyes,I really get distracted by trying to follow all the process but I can now pick one and try and see if it works.

    1. This is so true! Both beginner and advanced shooters sometimes get overwhelmed with just the sheer amount of variables in sport shooting. If you notice this, then it helps to turn your attention to what you can control in that moment and don’t expect perfection in every step.

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